So I have been working away on crafting my ideas so that I have a pithy project… I have interviewed a bunch of corporate women, run a focus group with some inspiring young millenials and despite some cold feet, some sweaty palms and a swag of internal chatter… I am doing it… but not before I share this parable that was shared with me by two different women on two different days from two different sources… here goes (with poetic licence)… a farmer has six horses in his field and one day they escape and can’t be found… his next door neighbour arrives and says how terrible for this to happen… the farmer responds that he can’t be sure maybe it’s bad news and maybe it’s not – he will just have to wait and see… a few days later six wild horses arrive in his field… and no sooner arrived when his neighbour pops over to say what wonderful news to have these six new horse… (and yes you guessed it) the farmer responds that he can’t be sure maybe it’s bad news and maybe it’s not – he will just have to wait and see… a few days later his military-age son is trying to break the wild horses in when he is thrown from a horse and breaks his leg… and (yes you guessed it the nosey-parker-of-a-neighbour-from-hell) arrives to say what dreadful news to hear of his poor lad’s broken leg… and of course our farmer can be relied on for the same commentary that he can’t be sure maybe it’s bad news and maybe it’s not – he will just have to wait and see…. a few days later the military police arrive in the local area to conscript all the young men to go to war… and the lucky farmer keeps his son safe at home with his broken leg…
So no I don’t have a broken leg, nor am I taking up farming, or wild horse taming but navigating a new path with little visibility other than putting one foot in front of the other and not rushing to conclusions that shut down this journey…
So after too long living in unforgiving humidity, I have forgotten how beautiful dry, hot summers are… it’s like being back in Cape Town… these crystal clear blazingly hot days followed by the relief of a night cooling… and here is what I have managed to do… have my hair blow-waved straight and without the havoc of high humidity I remained Morticia-like until I washed my hair… I am also not sweating like a man… and rather feel quite feminine sipping my iced coffee… About to experience the forbidding heat of the East Coast so suspect that masculine sweating gene might kick in…
I spent the weekend in Petaluma with friends… a beautiful historical town just north of San Francisco… Perfectly tended houses, groovy little coffee spaces, a farmers market, an enormous refurbished old bank that is now a GMO-free seed bank… a relaxed little estuary that we had dinner beside… All was well and safe in this land of the free and the brave… on waking the horror of what happened in Orlando breaks brutally into this idyll … here are the words of American poet, Brian Bilston’s entitled America is a Gun.
England is a cup of tea.
France, a wheel of ripened brie.
Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
America is a gun.
Brazil is a football on the sand.
Argentina, Maradona’s hand.
Germany, an oompah band.
America is a gun.
Holland is a wooden shoe.
Hungary, a goulash stew.
Australia, a kangaroo.
America is a gun.
Japan is a thermal spring.
Scotland is a highland fling.
Oh, better to be anything
than America as a gun.
So I spent a fabulous Memorial Day long weekend with my sister and family in beautiful, hip, extraordinarily quiet Portland… actually sometimes I think I may be the noisiest person in too-cool-for-school-you-can-never-have-enough-tats-nor-shades-of-blue-in-your-hair city of Roses (and “feel the Bern”)… It’s a fabulously, infinitely liveable place.. of course my fam is there so I am biased … but it’s beautiful and easy to get around, yummy food (and delicious boutique beer), cute little neighbourhoods, best coffee in the US, and more hipsters per square beard… I even snuck into have my hair coloured by a 50s motorbike-enthusiast with skulls peppered up his neck (just a smidge different to my perfectly coiffed hairdresser at home, just a smidge)…
Don’t really know where to start… firstly cannot quite believe it’s already one month and it’s gone in a blink of an eye and also feels strangely like I have been here for ages… so what’s fab and what’s not… the terror of the commute – wrong side of the road, driving a tiny Fiat 500, Teslas roaring up behind and almost on top of me.. thankfully now in a compact SUV (yes I am in a 4-wheel drive) taking on those bloody Teslas…; I have managed to get lost a lot (yes I do have a GPS) and have also remarkably traversed the I101 – a parking lot of a freeway … north, south and north again in under 5 minutes… but mostly it has been fab… delicious weather – hot and dry and then a magical coolness in the evenings… the joy of my quiet retreat far away from the valley (or the pit as it is known) in the forest (a little like Deliverance) and going to sleep with the sound of a stream just outside my window… the huge fat cat that I am looking after, Cleo, that lies on the ground and spoons the food into her mouth and needs three little wooden steps to walk up to the sofa (and also managed to attack me in week one and dug a fang into my palm)…hanging out with my beautiful, generous friend and her family in the mountains…strawberries that are the yummiest things I have ever eaten… whole foods (more like whole pay check)… trader joe… the best barre class in town…getting to see the “woman card” Hillary Clinton in downtown San Jose and being interviewed for community radio… and of course being close to my sis and her fam and chattering every day on my way home…oh and work… what a shock to the system – a 5-day week… but also interesting and provoking and living the ambiguous dream…
For all the wonderful women out there… our retreat is on… a weekend of yoga, archetype discovery, women’s business, delicious nourishing food, friendship and laughter… in the words of Deepak Chopra… “Peace, harmony, laughter and love”…
Welcome to a tale of woe…many of you will have experienced a similar story. Imagine a very excited me arriving at the airport to a surly airline representative telling me my Air New Zealand flight to the US was cancelled and “no” she had no idea why… I would have to overnight in Auckland and “no” she had no idea as to when I would be on a flight to San Fran… I watched my luggage sail off to luggage hell and made my sad way to the airline’s club… a lovely young woman took me under her wing, got me on Qantas flight via LAX (hideous I know but at least I would arrive in Portland the same day)… and promised she was on the phone to ensure my luggage was put on the new flight… some fabulous work by my travel agent re-routed my flight to Portland… so finally I arrived in hellish LAX and of course my luggage was in its own purgatory … just not in LA… yes lost it was. An unhelpful client service rep told me to deal with United Airlines when I arrived at my destination and it was not her problem…. So teary-eyed wandered off to wait for 6 hours to catch another flight to Portland… By now I hadn’t slept for what felt like an eternity but I figured this happens and my luggage will be delivered… I filled in the mandatory missing luggage form on arrival at Portland and went to meet my sister and family and felt relieved that all was now “in the system” and my bags would wing their merry way to me the next day… YEH RIGHT. Since then the debacle has continued unabated… today 5 days after I left Sydney, upwards of 5 hours waiting on hold listening to “fly the friendly skies”, my small backpack arrived… and my case is now closed… one slight problem is I had two pieces of luggage… my itsy bitsy backpack with not much in it and my main large piece of luggage with all my favourite stuff and of course Christmas gifts … which is now LOST and no one has a clue what happened to it and my case is closed and I no longer have missing luggage according to the airline… Thank you to Air NZ for starting the debacle and then taking no responsibility. Thank you to Qantas for making me feel it was my fault using Air NZ in the first place and what did I expect with Air NZ luggage tags. Thank you to United for being as awful as everyone says you are.
This much I know to be true… my blogging DNA is failing dismally… However I felt compelled to write today. I went to Documentary Australia Foundation’s launch of a new film, “The Surgery Ship” last night… Every moment of middle class woe, every bourgeois sentiment, every self indulgent thought flew out the window for little while last night. It is a must see. The story is of a medical ship that has been fitted out with operating theatres and recovery wards… staffed purely by volunteers from around the world (surgeons and nurses, cleaning staff and catering crew)… and it docks for a period of 12 months in some impoverished West African port and provides life-giving surgery to literally thousands of people…. Of course I wept but also inspired. And one of the young doctors in the movie attended the launch – Nerida, a bright-faced adventurer with a heart motivated by people in need – stirring stuff…. If you are in Australia, please watch SBS on the 10 December at 8.30pm.
So it felt like a privilege to be sandwiched into the Opera House listening to an enormously composed ex-PM on her first public outing since leaving the Lodge in late June. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, Julia Gillard is a lesson in how to traverse gracefully and with resilience events that would leave most of us bereft… It was a special evening and fitting that she should receive such a jubilant reception… the only questionable response was a peculiar answer to why she didn’t support gay marriage. I was however left with one question – Why did Julia not bring her full and infinitely likeable self to the PM role so that all of Australia could see her authentic self?
Still on the Brené Brown path… in my usual overly passionate way I bought every book written by her I could find on Amazon and am now trawling through them… I love this gem… ” When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety net below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.” Working through 360s for a number of clients this provides such a perfect and gentle framework from which to view the feedback, which for some can be really confronting.